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Day 1- Opposites Attract (Readers) by Julie Duffy

A writing prompt that focuses on a limited set of characters and locations, so you can start and finish your short story with success

StoryADay Prompt Illustration

Welcome to Day 1 of StoryADay 2022!

I’m sure you’re nervous and excited and eager to get on with it, so I’ll just say good luck, be good to yourself, never worry that you’re ‘failing’ because someone is doing something different from you (are you writing at all? Then you’re learning what you need to know!).

Keep reading to the end to find out what to do with that Bingo Sheet..

The Prompt

Write a story with 2 characters eating a meal together, who want different things

Tips

Limiting the setting and the number of characters is a quick’n’dirty way to keep your story from growing into the opening of a novel (not guaranteed, but…).

With two characters and one setting (a meal table) you are limited to focusing on these characters.


You can write this as a dialogue or allow the characters’ phsyical reactions tell the reader what they are feeling and thinking (how the character fidgets in their seat, what they pick up and put down, what they look at).
Remember that even if the characters want two different things, they will both believe they are right and have valid reasons for wanting what they want.

(They may even want the same thing, but have different approaches to achieving the goal: i. e. they want to keep their child safe, but for one that means letting them go on the school field trip with their friends, for the other, it might mean keeping them at home, away from physical danger).


Remember that people are rarely clear on what they want (or why they want it) so a conversation between two people gets messy quickly. Play with that.


Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is a writer and the founder and director of StoryADay. When not working on her own writing or hanging out with the fine folks at StoryADay, she can be found playing board games, or music, or finding a quiet corner in which to read and/or knit. She looks forward to traveling again.

Bingo Pieces

make sure you set your printer to print this at original size, not full-page!

Here’s your first Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

I know, 31 days of this is going to be a lot of wasted paper, but you can use the scraps as book marks, places to catch story sparks, opportunities for origami…and more

Or you can use your fave image editing software to add layers to this image.

But I think rewarding yourself every day with a bit of scissors-and-glue hands-on crafting, is a much better idea!

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!


Please note, I do not recommend posting your whole story in the comments here, for various reasons. Best Practice ; post about your experience of writing the story, or share an excerpt.

88 thoughts on “Day 1- Opposites Attract (Readers) by Julie Duffy”

  1. I only wanted my characters to argue about the ethics of making magic wishes involving each other without permission! They ended up getting a whole divorce T_T
    At least one of us had a good time!

  2. I love this! I got a whole flash fiction story out of this prompt, which went in a vastly different direction than I planned! So exciting! Thank you for doing this!

  3. Just popping in to note that I did write a story yesterday! It was only a drabble, but I made it happen, amongst a score of other commitments. Figured I’d need to be sure I got day 1 in to set the tone for the rest of the month. Great job, all!

  4. I stayed up until 3am because I needed to see how my story ended before I went to bed! It’s 2163 words based on a couple who move in together and find that it’s far from the relationship nirvana they anticipated. I realized in the process that I have written a lot of kitchen scenes and conversations in previous works. Great prompt!

    1. Yikes! I hope you could sleep in after that. Luckily for you, Day 2 is going to set some serious limits (which you are free to ignore, of course!)

  5. I was having a tough time coming up with my story – until I walked into my mom’s house and she was eating with her mouth open. Instant story. LOL

    1. It was so hard to find moments like this to inspire me during lockdown. Other people are such good fodder…

  6. It was a busy day for me. I read the prompt in the morning and thought about it all day long. I wrote about 1200 words in 45 minutes. I was surprized.

    1. I’m so proud of you.

      I definitely think that’s a great way to work: read the prompt as early as possible in the day and then set aside some time to find out what you’re subconscious has been doing with it all day.

  7. Today I sat in my car for an hour before church and completed an 1100 word story. In is a woman and her future mother in law, discussing wedding plans over a few glasses of wine. They want very different things.

    Thank you for the prompt.

    1. Well done to you, for making the time (and finding a perfect place) to write your story!

  8. I was really enjoying the argument my mother- teen daughter characters were having when I realized it was after midnight! I didn’t want to stop! They weren’t going to resolve their differences anyway, since the teen jumped up from the table and stomped to her room, slamming the door. I hadn’t thought about including a scene like that in my w-i-p, thanks! Can’t wait until tomorrow! (Um, later today😆)

    1. I so love it when these short stories provide material for a longer work, especially when it turns out to be a useful moment we didn’T know we ought to be writing!

  9. Day one complete! Doing this challenge really motivated me to get writing this morning. The prompt fitted in with an idea I’ve had for about a year now, and can’t believe that I have a first draft written. Looking forward to Day 2!

  10. Day 1 done with only an hour to spare! Took notes while attending an all gay, female carving club while visiting a relative out of state. Fortunately or unfortunately, they want to see the story when it’s finished. It’s one thing to write a story with a contest or magazine/web site in mind, but it’s another thing to write a story knowing that the people I am using as an idea for the story will be reading it. Now, I’m not sure if I should keep it accurate or be creative. I want to use them as the foundation and then take off with it, but I have a feeling that a couple of the women won’t understand that the group is the idea and not the story. It’s a rough draft, so I can take it either way when I edit. On to day two! I’m on a streak. 😉

    1. Woo! Great streak, Leslie 😉

      And remember: you are under no obligation whatsoever to show that story to people. (You can always dissemble and keep saying, ‘yeah, it’s not quite finished’ until they forget about it!)

  11. Thanks, Julie, for the idea of this challenge and for the writing prompt! That would not have occurred to me and gave me permission to write a fictional story. I was surprised how easily it came out and went onto paper! Not that it is good, but that it came out without a lot of effort!

  12. Got today’s story finished. Wrote a 441 dialogue-only story between two characters from my Baseball Boys series. They apparently have some history and very different ways of viewing things, which certainly causes some tension.

  13. Wow… that was hard!!! First time doing this challenge, although I’ve done other similar type things a fair while ago, but I was putting this off till later, then until after tea.. and then until when the kids were abed.. and then… I just had to start. Had blank page syndrome.. started typing with one direction in mind and 657 words later it was somewhere completely different! It even made my other half laugh! Which is good! (It was supposed to be funny!).

    Is there anywhere online to chat and share ideas, questions etc? Or are you keeping this away from the olde book of face black hole of time?

    1. Yeah, it’s just the blog comments (too tempting to waste time on other platforms!) but please do dig in and interact with other folks’ comments here.

      1. Also: really well done on getting the story done and on making your other half laugh. It gets both easier and harder as the month rolls on. 😉

  14. Just checking in. It was refreshing to just write a rough draft without worrying about polishing it!
    1155 words today.

  15. I’m trying to write a story where the reader gets to hear the thought of both the people in conflict.

  16. Day 1 FUN DAY – I decided to approach this challenge with the attitude of fun. (This is my third time participating.). For todays prompt I used some of what I learned in the iwriter class — I felt much more focused and clear on writing the story – with the essential elements. A little structure = great creative freedom. I’m doing the flash fiction size 500-1000 words .

  17. Day One Complete. I wrote 731 words. My characters are a couple married for twenty-five years. They are in a restaurant disagreeing on the cost of their daughter’s wedding. She thinks he’s spending too much money trying to impress the rich in-laws. They have three younger daughters to get through college and weddings. She also has doubts that her future son-in-law really loves their daughter.

  18. I just started working on a new novel, so I’ll be using the prompts to write backstory pieces for the most part (waves at Michele).

    Otherwise, I stuck to the prompt — two characters sharing a meal (on a space station). The new-ish partner and the very old friend of another character awkwardly talk, trying to overcome their uncertainties and jealousies regarding each other.

  19. OK. Once again, I wasn’t quite sure where I was starting and where it would end up. I felt stuck for a few minutes but found my way out. It is so strange not writing things related to my memoir. This began as a couple at the dinner table. All that was heard was the uncomfortable clinking of the silverware against the dishes. All that was felt was his seething anger. The only conversation that took place was her self admonishment for disagreeing with him. She knew better. The couple ended up being a father and teen daughter. His anger toward her was because of her mother’s death several years prior. He was unable to forgive her for needing her mother’s kidney, ultimately leading to her death. The final conversation was the teen counting how many days until she turned 18 and could leave and escape his judgment and shame so she could finally have the freedom to begin the work of forgiving herself for her mother’s death. 470 words that still seem to be coming from my own story in some strange way.

    1. We do tend to draw on our own experiences, don’t we?
      Sounds like a successful day’s writing. Well done, Heidi.

  20. This was perfectly delightful! I surprised myself and had an idea right away. Here’s my Pinterest board for the story: https://www.pinterest.com/faithwltmn/story-dinner-surprise/
    And here’s an excerpt:

    “I don’t know, Gio, I’m kinda thinkin me and youse should get away.”
    “Oh, nice! Let’s go to Rio! Rio’s great this time of year. We haven’t been on a vacation in two months!”
    “No, babycakes, that’s not what I mean. I think we should get away from my work. For good. I don’t think we’re safe here anymore.”
    “Joey! Now you’re just being silly. You have a great job. It’s given us all this.” She waved her hand around the penthouse. “And it gave us Chef and meals like this, and clothes like my vintage Worth dress. You know good and well we’re perfectly safe here.”
    “See, that’s the thing, Gio, I don’t think we are. Youse didn’t see the way ‘The Cigar’ looked at me when I busted in on his meetin. And ‘2 Clips’ actually patted his gun. He patted his gun, Giovanna!”

    Looking forward to tomorrow!

  21. 600-word fantasy story on a reluctant mentor of heroes-in-training and an arrogant aspirant meeting for the first time. They wind up with a mutual admiration bordering on friendliness.

    1. Calvin I’d love to see the story – I write a lot of fantasy myself.

      in fact I’m in day 2 already (literally, I live in Australia). I’m having my morning coffee reading everyones stories/notes/comments before I go to work.

  22. Day one story drafted. 938 words. “Aging Flowers” about a long married couple dining together. He’s thinking about leaving, but she does something to cause him to reconsider.

  23. Yay–Day One was fun — My aim was to let the two female friends lead the way–and they did. After that dinner, one must wonder how they manage to be friends–so little that they agree upon! Friendship involves acceptance — but sometimes you just gotta go home early (which one character does)

  24. I finished a story … almost immediately began thinking about what was missing and what I could and should have done differently and better … then made myself calm down because it is a draft and made myself think a bit about what I had done right. Of course, then I began to worry … I feel so accomplished today, what happens when I can’t sustain it?
    I am so excited about the process and what I was able to do. It reminded me that I really can do this.
    My story was about a young man asking a father for his son’s hand in marriage. (Roughly 1,000 words)

    1. That’s great. I’m so pleased for you, Talibah.

      It’s worth noticing all that chatter in your head, so you can tackle it/anticipate and silence it. And if you really can’t sustain the pace, set a different goal for week 3 (or whenever you hit the wall). Keeping track of your feelings as you go along is a valuable part of this process.

      1. Thank you for that feedback. I am going to try to do just that … keep track of the chatter, redirect it when possible and work through it. And I will remember what you said about making my own rules to get the most from this experience.

  25. Here’s an except of my piece. Mine was 1,226 words (which is average for a story story right?) and I basically have two characters that I’m probably going to use for most of my next stories. Anyway here’s the except:

    Cori looked unconvinced but before she could ask anything else, Tommy blurted out, “Are you free next week?”
    Cori looked at him suspiciously. “The entire week?” She asked cautiously.
    Tommy nodded and Cori looked even more confused. “Why?”
    Tommy took a deep breath and started explaining, “I’m taking a trip to San Francisco next week and I was wondering if you wanted to come with me…?”
    Tommy’s hopes shattered as Cori’s face melted into sadness. “I’m paying for everything,” he said quickly, desperate to keep a positive reaction on Cori’s face.
    “I’m so sorry Tommy but even if you did pay for everything, I still wouldn’t be able to go…” Cori commented.
    “Why..?” Tommy asked, unable to mask his complete disappointment.
    “I’m afraid I have a big soccer tournament all throughout next week and the team really needs me,” Cori admitted.
    “And you need the money…” Tommy finished for her.
    “Yeah…” Cori replied, hastily. “I’m really sorry Tommy, maybe we can reschedule for a different week?” She suggested.
    “Too late,” Tommy said gloomily. “I’ve already reserved everything.”
    “Oh, Tommy,” Cori cried out softly, reaching across the table and grabbing his hand. “I’m so so sorry!”
    “Sorry enough to come with me..?” Tommy tried to joke but his watery eyes were enough for Cori to know he wasn’t really joking.
    “Tommy…” Cori cooed looking into his eyes and he knew the answer was still no.

    If you’re reading this and you have feedback or suggestions or just think it’s good please respond! I’m a younger writer hoping that this challenge will improve my writing skills so any feedback is well appreciated.

    1. Wow, liked it, leaves you asking a lot questions about the relationship.
      Short Stories? I’m not sure, anything under 5,000 words is a rule I run too, and will admit I have attempted 100 word stories.

    2. Well done. I like the idea of reusing the characters. Efficient!

      And yes, short stories can run anywhere from a few words to 7,000. Flash fiction tends to be around 1,000-1,200, and longer short stories between 2-4,000. But it’s best not to get too caught up in artificial definitions. A good story is as long as it needs to be 😉

  26. I used today’s as backstory for characters in one of my linked stories. I wanted to practice how they would each convey their feelings about a character who isn’t present, without allowing any of them to state their feelings directly. AND I tried to convey to readers which character’s feelings were accurate–without stating that directly, either. Fun and done!

  27. OH my Goodness! Epic “fail”. I know we were supposed to stick to two characters in one space. My story started with Jack Sprat and his wife in their kitchen. Then, it moved on to their children who went next door to visit the old woman, because they were hungry. Now they are talking to a crooked old man about a momma, poppa and baby; and two young children that were found in the woods. All these people need food and the Old Woman “doesn’t know what to do”
    Jiminy Cricket, that went off the rails. See you all tomorrow.

  28. My rough draft is 175 words. My character are on a blind date and have opposite food choices. I could stop there or add more to the story. I’m not sure which it will be.

    1. Nice! mine went to about 400 words. Did you have a time limit, or did you just write until you felt like stopping.

  29. Element of a Memoire

    Shit, that hurt.

    The sky, grey, pierces the canopy of the sparse Australian bush above me. Rolling onto my side, I push to stand up. Oww! That’s not going to work. I move back onto my back, pulling my left leg up, pointing my knee to that same gray sky above. It hurt less that way.

    Noel appears before me, then Chris, followed by Matt. ‘You ok? he asks.

    The rugged granite rocks of the road dig into my lower back, my backpack, and my helmet protecting the rest of my body from this discomfort.

    I’m in a bit of a predicament. Having led many friends down the spur track, none of them knew where we were or even where we were going; I was leading this ride.

    I should not have been racing like a lunatic. Hitting the last cross-bank sent me arse over tit.

    Flying through the air headfirst, my helmet taking the bulk of the impact, rolling head to toe. I managed to bend my right leg so that the inside of my right ankle touched my left bum cheek.

    I snapped my right fibula, tore all the tendons and facia down the outside of my right leg, and shifted my knee cap south, making it a shin cap.

    ‘I’ve stuffed my leg; I can’t get up.’ This would be the understatement of the day. My T-12 vertebrae fractured, and the middle finger dislocated on the right hand in a lightning strike. ‘You’re going to have to look.’

    ‘What ‘a ya mean?’

    ‘Well, I can’t sit up and look myself, so you’re going to have to look.’ I was surprising myself a little; here I was lying on the side of a mountain in the high country of North East Victoria.

    It’s good to know all those years in the military, though, and working as a lifeguard through uni were definitely coming in handy.

    ‘We need to work out the damage, then we’ll work out what to do., so I need you to look.’

    ‘I’m not fookin lookin.’

    ‘I need you to just start at my ankle, wrap your hands around my leg and slowly run your hands up my leg, simply feeling for something.’

    Kneeling, Noel locks eye contact, the most intense eye contact I’ve ever had with a man in my 35 years. No words pass between the two of us. He starts moving his hand up my leg.

    I’d have to think the solid Irishman that he is has never played with a fella’s leg in such a way.

    ‘Going good, mate, keep going.’ He has moved his hands up over my calf and heading towards the knee. I can’t remember the pain. I know it was there.

    The ambo’s would give me a green whistle, a large green tube holding an analgesic to interrupt pain.

    However, I had Noel’s hands wrapped around my leg just now.

    His hands pass over my knee and start to head down my thigh towards my groin. Suddenly he stops.

    ‘Fook!’

    ‘What!?’

    ‘I feel sumptin; it’s hard.’

    Taking a deep breath, I pause. ‘Right, you’re going to have to look.’

    Noels’ stare is piercing as he looks me in the eye.

    Cautiously, with a good dose of anxiousness, he breaks the intense stare we’d been holding for minutes. Doing the brave thing, not knowing what he is going to see, fearing he will see a bone protruding from my leg, or worse.

    He looks down, releasing one hand to pull my short’s leg away from the skin. ‘Fook! It’s ya bloody cyclin nicks, you daft bastard!’

  30. Rathin,

    Excellent take on today’s prompt. you definitely worked with it.
    what is ‘Card’?
    I enjoyed reading it, you represent your environment really well and cause quesitons.

    Thank you

      1. ‘Curd’, Brenda, ‘is a milk product that is used for various purposes. I think you might have been confused as I misspelt the word.
        My apologies. Don’t hesitate to point out my mistakes. I’ll really appreciate that.
        Stay happy.

    1. Thank you, Julie. I missed your comments yesterday, and was, to tell you honestly, quite upset. I could have written about my experience of writing the story based on the second prompt but that would have been another story. So, I chose to share the second story instead. Please be kind enough to let me know if I am overdoing things.
      I am passionate about writing, sharing my stories, and welcome feedbacks on them.
      You are doing a fabulous job with StoryADay. All the very best wishes. Stay blessed.

  31. Done! After 30 days of writing a 30-word story a day in April, I felt released and free to write 811 words today!

      1. Absolutely! Punched it out in 30 minutes. The same time it took to write those slippery little 30-word suckers…

  32. Bridging Generation Gap

    After the death of my wife, who died at childbirth, I had dumped the new-born into the hands of my in-laws and returned to my work place. I considered the child a curse.

    I’d go down to meet them occasionally though. Then when she was 16, both my inlaws passed away within 24 hours of one another under tragic circumstances. I took voluntary retirement and brought home Nilanjana, the daughter.

    “Baba,” Nilu, I mean, Nilanjana brought me out of my contemplation. “Will you please have a look at the rice cooking on the oven and pour off the water once it’s ready? I can’t do it?”

    I looked at her, thunderstruck. What was the world coming to? Imagine me asking the same question to my late father some thirty years ago! I’d have died at the very thought of it.

    Once the rice was cooked, I sieved the water off and brought the enamel pot inside the room. I tried not to look at her sitting on bed, with a pillow on her lap and the laptop on top of it. Her life, to me, consisted of nothing but eating, watching Korean films and making merry.

    Initially, I used to yell a lot but she was incorrigible. I was shocked when her result was out. She passed with distinction!

    “How did you secure 86%? I never saw you studying! ” I had asked her incredulously one day.

    “Smart study, Dad. Our generation has a better IQ than ancient people like you.” She retorted without even looking up from her laptop.

    That afternoon, while serving me food, she asked, ” Dad, you wanna watch a movie with me? I feel so bored.”

    “No way.” I answered. “Have some fried Bitterguard. Good for health, you know.”

    She made a face and the next moment removed the cover of the curry pot with chilli chicken in it.

    After a while, I poured a little bit of the spicy chicken onto my plate. The girl was either a jerk or plain dumb. I had been telling her for as long as I could remember about the benefits of having stuff like Bitterguard, boiled vegetables, eggs and so on. But all my talks fell into deaf ears.

    I put a handful of rice with the spicy curry in my mouth and gwaked.

    “God! It is so darned hot, Nilu. If you go on taking such spicy items, it won’t be long before you have a stomach ulcer.”

    She didn’t even say “Sorry” but it was clear from the divine look on her face that she was relishing it.

    “Can you get me some card from the fridge instead?” I asked her while pushing the portion of the rice mixed with the spicy curry away.

    She didn’t even seem to have heard my request with the earphones tucked into her ears.

    “Nilu! Can you get me some card?” I thundered.

    She removed the plug from her ear, had a sip from the bottle of Spice before asking me quizzically. “Did you tell me something, Dad?”

    I got up to get some card for me.

    “Nilu, how many times do I have to tell you that it is bad to have any liquids while eating?”

    “Why? It’s not bad for digestion, Baba, and yea, please don’t start lecturing me again. At least for once, listen to me and take a look at yourself in the mirror. It will tell you who, between the two of us, is the healthier and better-looking one.” She responded with a glint in her eyes before getting up and back to her laptop with the plate in her hand.

    That night as I was looking at myself in the mirror, I found a monster in there with lines on his forehead. He looked wrinkled, outright mean and evil.

    I turned my head back at my daughter then, busy typing something on her mobile. I realized for the first time that she had grown into a beautiful Lady with those greenish-blue eyes and her glowing skin.

    “What’s up, Dad? ” She asked me while catching me looking at her.

    “Nothing.” I replied hastily. “Let’s watch “Friends”, shall we?”

    Nilu looked at me quizzically before breaking into a smile.

    “Sure. I’ve something to share, Dad. I’ve an offer of a scholarship from MIT.”

    It was my turn to break into a laugh.
    The end

  33. Hi, I’m confused. I wanted to sign up for both challenges, so I’d get emailed the prompts for the Story-A-Day in case any of them spark anything, and still be able to follow along with the Fun-Size challenge. But I only seem to be getting emails for this one, not the other one?

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